Stanford Research Development Office

NSF Major Research Instrumentation Program

Note: This page will be updated as new information becomes available. Please check back frequently. (Most recent content update June 10, 2024).

Program Snapshot

The NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program serves to increase access to multi-user scientific and engineering instrumentation for research and research training. MRI supports the acquisition or development of a multi-user research instrument that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. Additionally, an MRI award is expected to enhance research training of students who will become the next generation of instrument users, designers and builders. This is a limited opportunity, and Stanford internal competition is required.

The maximum funding a proposal can request from NSF is $4 million. Since voluntary cost sharing is not permitted at this time, the maximum total project cost of proposed new projects is also $4 million.

"Track 1" has been revised to include proposals that request funds from NSF greater than $100,000 and less than $1,400,000. "Track 2" has been revised to include proposals that request funds from NSF greater than or equal to $1,400,000 up to and including $4,000,000.

A new track has been added ("Track 3") to incorporate opportunities, consistent with section 10373 of the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022" (42 U.S.C. 19083), for proposal requests that include the acquisition, development, installation, operation, and maintenance of equipment and instrumentation to reduce consumption of helium.

Stanford RDO has created a four-minute video featuring key advice on the NSF MRI program for PIs applying (SUnet login required to access).

Information from NSF
  • MRI Homepage
  • Program Page
  • Program Solicitation (NSF 23-519): HTML | PDF
  • NSF webinar recording and presentation; from Fall 2022 NSF Grants Conference; up-to-date for solicitation NSF 23-519
  • NEW  for Fall 2023 application cycle: NSF will host MRI Virtual Town Hall events Thursday, September 14 and Friday, September 15, 2023. Register here. Recordings will be posted when available.
  • NSF MRI FAQ (The most recent FAQ available refers to an older version of the solicitation, NSF 15-012. Much of the FAQ content remains applicable; however, please always defer to the current version of the solicitation if conflicting information is present.)

Timeline (accurate as of last content update)

  • July 22, 2024: Equipment report request due to PMO
  • August 20, 2024: Internal proposal due to VPDoR Limited Submissions
  • October 15 - November 15, 2024: Full proposal due to NSF

Stanford Limited Submissions

Limited Submissions details

This is a Limited Submission funding opportunity. A university-wide internal selection process is required prior to proposal submission to NSF. The MRI program permits organizations to submit or be included as a significantly funded subawardee in no more than two (2) submissions in Track 1 and no more than one (1) submission in Track 2. One (1) additional submission is permitted in the newly defined Track 3.

Eligibility criteria for Stanford Limited Submissions

  • Stanford faculty with PI eligibility
  • Other eligibility criteria: Medical Research Restriction
    • The MRI program does not provide support for instrumentation to be used in medical education (such as medical school courses). Please refer to Section II.B. Eligible Fields of Science and Engineering of the solicitation for more details.
  • Other eligibility criteria: SLAC
    • Proposals for the acquisition or development of an instrument involving another Federal agency or one of their Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) must be submitted as a consortium proposal by an MRI submission-eligible organization as described in Section II.A. MRI Program Scope of the solicitation.
    • If an instrument is to be housed at SLAC, then the PI for the proposal must be a Stanford faculty member with a primary appointment in a department on campus and submit an internal proposal, per the internal submission guidelines below, as a “consortium” proposal, with SLAC as a “partner”.

Find more information on the selection process and submit internal applications through the Limited Submissions portal page.

If you have any questions about the limited submissions process, please email

RDO-Compiled Resources

This list will be updated as new resources become available. Please contact RDO to discuss additional support that may be available to your proposal team.

Proposal Writing Resources

To jumpstart the proposal development process, RDO has produced a short video of advice on the NSF MRI program. The video is aimed at investigators who are ready to begin proposal writing, and in that sense is intended mainly for teams selected through the Stanford Limited Submissions program.

Below are resources from the Research Development and Grant Writing Newsletter published by Academic Research Funding Strategies, LLC. You are welcome to share within Stanford; please maintain SUNet ID protection as required by our institutional subscription.

MRI Broader Impacts

RDO can advise on the required "Broader Impacts" section of an MRI proposal and work together with the Office of STEM Outreach for guidance on education, broadening participation, outreach activities, and partnerships. You may also directly contact Kyle Cole (; Director, Office of STEM Outreach). In addition, School of Engineering faculty may also contact Blythe Nobleman for developing broadening participation and educational outreach plans.

How to identify instrumentation resources at Stanford

A listing of similar and/or related instrumentation is required in the "Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources" section of an MRI proposal, per the solicitation. To help identify such instrumentation, RDO provides a list of campus units and service centers that may help identify existing instrumentation and provide expertise in selecting appropriate instrumentation. Note that the following list may not be exhaustive.

Proposal Support

Proposal support is available through the Stanford Research Development Office, Office of STEM Outreach, and School of Engineering.

Stanford Research Development Office

The Stanford Research Development Office (RDO) supports faculty across Stanford on proposal development, including advising on proposal sections, writing, editing, project management, and bringing in internal and external expertise. Please contact RDO Director Kim Baeten ( for more information.

Education and STEM Outreach via the Office of Community Engagement

Kyle Cole (, Director of Education and STEM Outreach for the Office of Community Engagement, can provide support in connecting the Stanford community with youth, schoolteachers, nonprofits, and the broader community to help increase engagement, participation, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields.

School of Engineering

Blythe Nobleman is the Research Development Strategist & Editor in the School of Engineering. Working closely with engineering research administrators, Blythe works with SoE faculty to identify funding opportunities, develop concepts, encourage best practices in proposal writing, and to review/edit proposals. Blythe also assists with developing broadening participation and educational outreach plans. To learn more, contact: